Your Majesty, urged by the clergy consisting of the subjects of Turkey and Russia the Catholicos of all the Armenians wants to leave for St. Petersburg to appeal to Your Majesty in person and to ask You to defend the Armenians from the attacks of the Kurds in Turkey. I undertook the courage to postpone the visit and suggested him that his request would be delivered to Your Majesty by me. I shall be obliged to submit some of my personal considerations on the mentioned appeal using an amiable consent of the chairman of the Council of Ministers whom I acquainted with the appeal of the Catholicos. Your Majesty is aware of the entire history of our relations with Turkey until the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 which ended with the annexation of the current Batum and Kars provinces. The Russian policy throughout the entire history was built on friendly relations with the Armenians since Peter the Great, and they paid their compensation assisting actively our troops in military operations. We took possession of the so-called Armenian province, where the church of Echmiadzin is. This church is the cradle of the Armenian-Gregorian branch of Christianity. Emperor Nikolas Pavlovich made considerable efforts to make the patriarch of Echmiadzin become the patron of the Armenians in Turkey and Iran. He was just to suppose that by doing it he would have useful influence for Russia among the Christian population of the Asia Minor, through which the road lay to the southern seas for which we aspired all the time. By patronizing towards the Armenians we have gained loyal allies who have always rendered us great service. We could not exercise this policy all the time because of the counteraction of Turkey which is eager to concentrate the spiritual influence over its local Armenians subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And this policy was pursued consistently and steadily at least for a century and a half. Last time it found its conspicuous expression in San-Stefano Peace Treaty. In Article 16 of this treaty Babi-Ali undertook the obligation to ensure the safety of the Armenians from the neighboring Kurds and immediately conduct improvements and reforms connected with the needs of the local population in the provinces populated by the Armenians under the threat of keeping the Russian troops in Armenia. This obligation of Babi-Ali was confirmed in Article 61 of the Berlin Treaty, but this time without any threat of the Russian arms because of the consent of the great powers against the will of Russia. Only in the 90s of the last century this primordial policy of Russia connected with the Armenians radically changed after the massacre in Sasun, when.
Duke Lobanov-Rostovsky refused categorically to render assistance to the Armenians and defend them from Turkey. Your Majesty is aware of the grave consequences in the change of our policy concerning the Armenians and the Armenian Church in Russia. It also led to the birth of anti-Russian spirits among all the Armenians, including those who are the subjects of Russia. It makes them join the revolutionary movement hostile to the Russian government. By appointing me to the post of the vice-Roy of the Caucasus in order to extinguish the flames of revolution in this part of the country, I would like Your Majesty to cancel all the measures, which give birth to discontent among the Armenians living in Russia. Despite the opinion of many statesmen, who criticize my policy concerning the Armenians, Your Majesty’s highest imperial confidence in me gave to me power to pursue this policy steadily, now I, Your humble servant, am happy to report that Your Majesty has obtained not only loyal subjects in the person of the Armenians of Russia, but also in the person of the Armenians living in Turkey, who understand that they may get real protection of their lives, honor and property from the uninterrupted cruelty of the Kurds only from Russia and its sovereign. Your majesty, I think that it is high time now to return to the primordial Russian policy of patronizing towards the Armenians of Turkey, it is insistently necessary to find out only those forms in which they may be expressed at the moment. I think that it is high time to issue a categorical statement by mentioning the Berlin Treaty concerning the protection of the Armenians from the Kurds. I think that it is impossible to give up the initiative of protecting the Armenians, and it is also to the point to say that recently there has appeared information in newspapers, perhaps untrue, that some Armenian politicians have appealed to Duke Berthold of Austria to interfere into the issue. If we do not use this chance and some other great state uses it, then it will be an irrecoverable blow on the prestige of Russia among the Christians of the Asia Minor, and if we do not reply to the entreaties of the Armenian people at this moment, it will be considered as a loss of confidence in the Russian czar as its crowned patron and in future to look for the defense not in Russia. It is necessary to act openly for the defense of the Armenians in Turkey, particularly at this moment, in order not to push them away, but to win their sympathy in the locations which willy-nilly may occur in the sphere of our military operations.
At the same time, by acting so decisively, we must stress particularly that we do not claim to the Turkish territories in order not confuse the Turkish, but also the Armenians eager to join Russia. At present to control the territory of the so-called Armenia in Turkey, populated mainly by the barbarian Kurds, might be detrimental for us at present and create problems in the rule of the country populated by mixed and fanatic ethnicities hostile to each other. At the end of my report I cannot conceal from Your Majesty the diplomatic mediation developed by me for the Armenians in Turkey, which would have filled the hearts of their fellow-tribesmen with the feelings of love and devotion to the monarch , under the auspice of whom they would have sincerely desired a good welfare for all the Armenian people.
Devoted subject of Your Majesty Duke Vorontsov-Dashkov
From the letter of the vice-Roy of Russia in the Caucasus Duke Vorontsov-Dashkov to His Imperial Majesty Nicolas Romanov
(April 17, 1909 (“Krasniy arxiv”, N1 (26), M., 1928, c.118-120)